Northern Ireland

Top police officer Gillespie turns back on £500k payout

A leading police officer has forfeited a £500,000 payout after her daughter advised her to do what makes her happy.

Judith Gillespie, Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI, was due the large payment if she retired in March.

But the high-ranking officer said policing is about "far more than the financial rewards".

"I enjoy what I'm doing and as my daughter advised me, 'if you enjoy what you are doing why don't you just keep doing it'," she said.

Ms Gillespie, who was the first woman to become an Assistant Chief Constable in NI, said her sense of vocation has "in no way diminished" from what it was in 1982 when she joined the force.

Not opposed

Lord Patten's reforms to policing in NI after the Good Friday Agreement meant former police officers could retire with generous payments, and aimed to encourage more Catholics to join the largely protestant police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

This has cost more than £500m during the past 10 years.

Ms Gillespie is the most senior officer eligible for the scheme.

As well as the lump sum, she would also have qualified for an enhanced pension if she retired by April.

Chief Constable Matt Baggott had asked the NI policing board to change the rules to allow her to remain in post for a further three years, with no financial penalty. However, the board refused.

Although Ms Gillespie declined to take the Patten pay out, she is not opposed to the process.

"For the Patten reform programme to work, a generous severance package had to be offered for police officers, so it would be feasible for them to leave much earlier than they had planned under normal circumstances," she said.

"I don't think we should be in any way ashamed or guilty about that - it was the right thing for us to do."

Responding to questions that she has ambitions to become the next Chief Constable in Northern Ireland, she said: "The Chief Constable job is not vacant at the moment, nor is it likely to be for some years to come, so lets just become proficient at the job I'm in and worry about the next day some distance away.

Another senior officer, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, also faces losing a lump sum payment of more than £500,000 if he does not retire by the end of March.

It is understood he has to inform the board of his decision within the next two weeks.

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